Hawks Cut Series to 2-1 with Decisive 116-98 Win over Wizards in Game 3

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2017

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 22: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Atlanta Hawks drives to the basket past Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards during the first quarter in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

The No. 5 Atlanta Hawks shrunk their first-round playoff series deficit to 2-1 on Saturday with a 116-98 Game 3 thrashing of the fourth-seeded Washington Wizards at Philips Arena in Atlanta.

Wizards point guard John Wall tied for the game high with 29 points, but Washington was unable to overcome an 18-point lead Atlanta built in the first quarter.

Forward Paul Millsap paced the Hawks with 29 points and 14 rebounds, while point guard Dennis Schroder scored 27 points with 20 of them coming in the first half, making Hawks history in the process, according to Hawks PR:

Hawks PR @HawksPR

Dennis Schroder (20 points) is the first Hawk in franchise history to score 20-or-more points in his first three career playoff starts.

After dropping the first two games of the series, the Hawks appeared motivated Saturday, as they raced out to a 19-4 lead and never looked back.

They were especially proficient from behind the arc in the first quarter, as seen in this highlight package courtesy of the Hawks' official Twitter account:

Atlanta Hawks @ATLHawks

Loving this start 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/8dl3MfdLFa

Additionally, the Hawks got center Dwight Howard involved early, which is something they failed to do in the opening two games:

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Atlanta Hawks @ATLHawks

DWIGHT https://t.co/QHC6lUVJzi

A bevy of Hawks players helped build the early lead, while Wall was essentially the only Wizard who came to play.

Per Nick Wright of Fox Sports, Wall was responsible for nearly all of the 20 points Washington scored in the first quarter:

nick wright @getnickwright

John Wall scored or assisted on 18 points in the first quarter. The Wizards have 20 points total.

As pointed out by Matt Moore of CBS Sports and Brad Rowland of Uproxx.com, Wall received little support from his teammates:

Brad Rowland @BTRowland

@HPbasketball there isn't one guy playing well in support of him. not a one.

That included this highlight-reel dunk, courtesy of the NBA's official Twitter account, which was one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise miserable effort by the Wiz:


John Wall is a full-time magician. #DCFamily https://t.co/5MlgQbR5IX

Atlanta carried an 18-point lead into halftime, and while Washington began to cut into it in the second half, it was unable to contain Millsap.

After seeing their lead drop to 13 points, the Hawks seized back the momentum in the third quarter when Millsap made an incredible shot while getting fouled:


Millsap (21 PTS / 11 REB) gets the ridiculous and-1 to drop on @NBAonTNT. #TrueToAtlanta https://t.co/zg7EStSSmk

Washington made another run early in the fourth quarter to tighten things up, but it was once again unable to get the deficit below double digits before the Hawks got back to pouring it on.

Much of that was due to Millsap's having his way in the paint with the likes of Markieff Morris, Jason Smith and others:


Paul Millsap continues to flourish. He has 29 PTS / 14 REB on @NBAonTNT. #TrueToAtlanta https://t.co/mbXQZD4fgK

Atlanta couldn't stop the Wizards defensively in the first two games of the series, but with the exception of Wall, Washington was shut down Saturday.

The Wizards shot just 41.6 percent from the field, while Bradley Beal and Morris were held to 12 and nine points, respectively.

To make matters worse, the Wizards announced that small forward Otto Porter Jr. left the game with a neck strain.

The Hawks are now very much back in the series, especially if they keep up the Game 3 level of defensive intensity along with the combination of Millsap and Schroder continuing to thrive offensively.

Following Saturday's bounce-back performance, Atlanta will have an opportunity to even the series at 2-2 Monday.

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